The holiday season is an inspiring time for Education Through Music’s partner schools—and especially for those in their first year of working with ETM. After months of focused preparation, students perform in festive year-end concerts for family and friends (and for many of them, it’s their first time on stage!). Music teachers pause to take pride in how much their students have grown since only September. And we at ETM thank YOU for your dedicated support of inner-city music education. You make it all possible!
One music teacher, who works at two of ETM’s first-year partner schools, enthusiastically shares how her students have found joy and confidence through music class:
“In all of my classes, I have watched students come out of their shells… I have my students singing, dancing, acting, and playing instruments. I think being aware and comfortable of your body and movement is important in everyday life. It's amazing because every day I notice more and more students becoming confident in their own skin.”
She describes how singing has given one troubled student a constructive outlet for his emotions:
“One student, in particular, is known for having anger issues and physically lashing out. In my eyes, though, this student is extremely musical and has a lot of potential. My class gives him the opportunity to shine and show a different side to his personality that many teachers or staff rarely get to see. One fact that many would not know about this student is that he LOVES the song, ‘If I Could Fly Like A Snowflake.’ The first week I introduced this song, I could see a spark in his eyes. He was singing and dancing and he was genuinely happy. As I said, this student is known for his unsafe behavior. I see him in a completely different light. I see him as the student who is enthusiastic about music and who loves to sing. Whenever I see this student in a bad mood, I always remind him of the ‘Snowflake’ song and he instantly starts to regain control. Music has the ability to lift one’s spirits and change how we perceive the world around us. To this one young student, this song reminds him of happier thoughts and is able to help him get through rough parts of the day.”
Music has given this child an opportunity to express himself in a way that other classes have not. Singing helps him control his emotions and gives his teachers and school staff a better picture of his potential. Stories like this underscore how ETM values music education: as a subject important in its own right, and as a tool for promoting growth and development in other areas—emotional, social, and academic. 5,000 students are receiving these opportunities for the very first time this year, as their schools have just begun partnering with ETM. We couldn’t give these opportunities to deserving students without your support. Thank you!
Please forward this report to your family and friends and encourage them to learn about ETM. Have a wonderful holiday!
With sincere thanks,
The ETM Staff
Your support of our first-year partner schools has helped foster enthusiasm for music throughout our partner school communities. Music teacher Tom Carroll shares the following about P.S. 154 in Queens, which just completed its first year with ETM:
“Working in a new partner school is such a rewarding experience. It is so clear to see how the students, parents, and staff were affected by the introduction of a music program into the school culture. One 3rd grade teacher (who worked in the school for over 15 years) claims that it was the most important and influential initiative to ever come through the building. I remember after the first concert I went into her classroom and she hugged me, cried, and just said thank you. It was the most incredible thank you I ever received.”
ETM thinks music instruction is important both for its own sake and as a means to spark growth in other areas—academic, social, and emotional. Not surprisingly, some of our favorite stories show how exposure to music helps students learn about themselves and gain pride in their abilities. Tom shared with us how one of his students found confidence through his involvement with ETM:
“I had a 4th grade student who started the year as a shy and very soft spoken boy. His teacher even told me that she hoped the music classes would improve his self-esteem. Soon enough, this student joined the music club and ended up performing in a short scene in front of a crowded auditorium. After that experience, you would never know that he [had been] a shy student.”
Thank you for making these kinds of stories possible!
With the end of summer vacation upon us, ETM students and teachers are getting ready for another exciting and rewarding school year. This year, ETM’s program is expanding to serve 20,000 students in 38 New York City schools—thanks to contributions from donors like you.
Please consider forwarding this report to friends and family so they can share in your excitement for making quality music instruction available to all children.
Thanks to your support, seven schools that just one year ago lacked comprehensive, school-wide music programs are today offering every student weekly music instruction. The change in these school environments is most palpable when the students take the stage, smiling with confidence, to perform in front of their family members and classmates at their spring concerts. Last week’s concert at PS 175 provides a glimpse of what is happening in partner school communities around the city thanks to your involvement:
At PS 175, the Lynn Gross Discovery School, a first-year partner school in Queens, Principal Patricia Cooper welcomed parents, guardians and other family members who packed the school’s auditorium:
“Thank you so much for coming. I’m so fortunate to be the principal here and be able to bring in a variety of programs to our students…music being one. Music fills a void, a place of hunger and is vital just as breathing fresh air is to our children. This is our second concert of the year since introducing the music program. [ETM music teacher] Mr. Kanakaris, who came to us by way of Education Through Music, has been a phenomenal addition to our school. We are happy the music program has been received so well by the students.”
Part of building a brand-new music program also includes educating audience members so they understand how music fits into their child’s education and development. Before beginning the concert, Principal Cooper and Mr. Kanakaris also encouraged parents to cheer on their children, but refrain from causing distractions during the pieces. The goal of every concert is to ensure all students receive a full and positive experience, which enables them to feel proud of their accomplishments on stage. A part of this experience is being able to share their joy with their parents and peers. Mr. Kanakaris promised parents an opportunity, after each grade’s section of songs, to take photos of their child on stage to capture the special occasion; an offer that parents proudly accepted.
Titled “Spring Memories,” the concert boasted a range of tunes—from patriotic pieces like “America, the Beautiful” to warm-weather numbers like “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” and nostalgic hits like “In My Life” and “Blue Skies.”
At the end of the performances, Mr. Kanakaris announced that PS 175 hopes to add an elective band program for 5th graders next year, following the model ETM has established in several other partner schools. When band is added as an elective, it has been shown, to reinforce general music class, support learning in other academic areas, and improve students’ self-confidence and sense of responsibility. As PS 175 continues to incorporate music into its school community, we know that the benefits of music education will continue to unfold.
Success at PS 175, and our other first-year partner schools, is possible due to your support. Thanks for helping ETM get music into the hands of students throughout New York City!
Unfortunately, many more students lack music instruction than we currently serve. If you’d like to help us expand our programming to keep the music playing in these new partner schools and others, please consider forwarding this report and ETM’s information to a friend or colleague who might also provide support.
Dear Project Supporters:
Students at our first-year partner schools are continuing to benefit from the materials and supplies funded by this project. With your help, music teachers can make their instruction more engaging and enriching for these students. ETM music teacher Erin Giacinto, at PS 42 in the Bronx, provides a glimpse of the wonderful things the students are doing thanks to your support. She writes:
“Students in the 4th and 5th grade have recently started an anti-bullying program. We were spending a lot of time in the classroom working on chord progressions and playing accompaniments on classroom instruments…Some of the students got together during their recess time and began writing their own song, based off of what we had learned in music, about the harmful effects of bullying. [They] wrote their own original lyrics [to] a popular song using the chords that we learned.”
The students went on to perform their original composition for Ms. Giacinto, and then the entire school during a morning student meeting. “The confidence that the students built just by knowing that they [wrote]… their own music”, Erin says, “and the courage it took to perform it in front of the whole school, made a big difference for some of the students in the group who are affected by bullying. I have seen these students grow so much from the confidence of being an independent musician.”
Your support is making a lasting difference in the lives of all of our students. In addition to the 4th and 5th graders described by Ms. Giacinto, our younger students have also been enjoying their new music instruction. The ones pictured above are using some of their new classroom instruments as they prepare for their school’s winter concert.
Success at P.S. 42 and other first-year partner schools has been possible with your support. Yet, there are more students and schools we hope to reach. Won't you consider forwarding our project to a friend or colleague who you think might be interested in donating? Your support is greatly appreciated!
The ETM Staff
Some students put on a “tough” act as a way of coping with growing up in tough environments. But early exposure to the arts can often allow these students to express their emotions, reflect on and cope with their environments in a creative, constructive manner. For those students whose first exposure to a true arts curriculum begins later in their schooling it can be difficult to shed their tough exteriors to truly engage in the learning process. An activity like singing in class, for instance, is viewed as “uncool” and resisted at great lengths.
By fifth grade, Kevin* had earned a reputation as his school’s “tough, cool guy.” When music class was first offered at Kevin’s school, PS 72, he used it as an opportunity to act out. Kevin had a lot of influence on his peers who followed his lead and misbehaved in music class. This was until Kevin started the current school year, when he became eligible to join the school’s band ensemble.
Kevin was surprisingly quick to sign up for band and to select the flute as his instrument of choice. Kevin has been a natural at the flute and looks forward to music class and band ensemble every week. In band, especially, Kevin is in his element. He is often seen helping his classmates and enjoying the experience of learning and playing music. His music teacher, Morgan Ferris, sees him for both general music and band, and has noted that Kevin’s positive attitude has transferred over so that he has become more focused and well-behaved in her general music class. After building a positive rapport with Kevin through band, Ms. Ferris has noticed that Kevin no longer disrupts and is instead a more active participant in both settings.
While playing the flute has come naturally to Kevin, he also works to improve his ability and knowledge. Kevin has used many of his lunch periods to rehearse and practice on his flute instead of getting into trouble. Not only has the flute kept Kevin from detention, but it has also increased his motivation and overall engagement in school. This has been a nice, noticed change for Kevin’s other academic teachers who have utilized his new-found interest in band to focus his attention in their classes as well. Some teachers have even used extra time at the end of class to allow Kevin to discuss his love of music or to perform for his classmates as a reward for being a productive member of the classroom.
And while Kevin has not made a complete turnaround (he still shies away from singing), he’s shown great maturity and growth. Kevin has also become interested in using his “cool” guy image to now set a good example for others. Currently, he volunteers with Ms. Ferris to help her teach the Kindergarten classes “I’m a Little Snow Flake” in preparation for the school’s upcoming winter concert.
Kevin and his peers at PS 72, and across ETM’s 28 partner schools, are eagerly preparing for their winter concerts and are ready to showcase what they’ve learned. Without your help and support these students would not have the opportunity to gain invaluable skills and confidence through music. Please consider sharing this story with friends and colleagues who might be interested in supporting this project this holiday season, to help ETM provide students with a well-rounded education all year long. Your support can make a difference!
*The student’s name was changed to protect his identity and privacy.
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